Maps & Atlases’ debut album, Perch Patchwork, received a score of 7.4 from Pitchfork. Now, a 7.4 will get you some important things in the indie rock world: plays on HypeMachine, scores of people arguing about your band on Hipinion and even actual fans who will travel to see you play. Now, I have to pre-empt this review by saying that I haven’t let Perch Patchwork properly sink in yet, but it’s an enjoyable album to be sure, and far more enjoyable than the Trees, Swallows, Houses and You and Me and the Mountain EPs. This convinced me to make the drive out to Monticello to see the band perform at Any Frequency records, a store which I had absolutely no idea even existed.
Monticello is a strange place to put a record store — yet there it was, nestled between boutique shops and a bar which could only be classified as a dive. A surprisingly large contingent of people turned out for the show, and they weren’t even all from Champaign. Let me ask you this: when was the last time you got in an argument about what Jack White’s best band is or discussed the merits of the Dirty Projectors with someone from Farmer City?
The band ran through an eight song set almost entirely drawn from their new album Perch Patchwork — well, maybe ran is the wrong word. The set felt more like the band was taking a leisurely stroll in the park, the exception to which was ironically enough an older song (“Witch” from the You and Me and the Mountain EP), and was disappointingly meandering and awkward. Honestly, the show felt more like watching a bad jam band than a supposedly up and coming indie rock act.
Now, that’s not to say things were all bad. Any Frequency is an extremely cool store, and their vinyl selection is Exile’s equal, to say the least. What Any Frequency lacks in selection, they make up with non-musical items (tshirts, etc) and a surprisingly extensive breaks/hip hop section. The back area of the store, where Maps & Atlases set up with the lights off, almost feels like a basement. While this unfortunately lead to the pox upon the art of photography that you see above, it also lent a definite air of intimacy to the proceedings. Unfortunately, the band mostly failed to do anything with the props they’d been handed, and it showed in the limp and distracted crowd, a good chunk of which wandered off during the show to browse the vinyl shelves.